Game Four Preview - England vs. Tonga

Vitality Roses huddle - Credit: Michael Bradley

After three wins from three in the opening stage, the Vitality Roses move onto the next phase of the competition, starting with Tonga live on the BBC and Sky Sports.

Yesterday, Jess Thirlby’s side sealed their place at the top of Pool B with a 62-37 win over Scotland. The Vitality Roses have now formed a new pool alongside the Scottish Thistles with Pool B runners-up Malawi and Pool A sides Australia, Tonga and Fiji.

For Tonga, this is the first time they have qualified for the main tournament having previously taken part in preliminary rounds at the 1999 tournament. But despite being World Cup debutants, the Tonga Tala have won two out of three games at this World Cup and have enjoyed some good results over the last year, coming through the 2022 Oceania World Cup Qualifiers in Fiji and the recent Pacific-Australia Netball Series in Queensland undefeated.

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Their squad boasts some talents from the Australian and New Zealand domestic leagues as well as a couple of experienced stars in former Australian Diamond Mo’onia Gerrard, and Cat Tuivaiti, someone fans of the Netball Super League will know well from her time with Strathclyde Sirens and Severn Stars. This is the third country she has represented on the international stage having played for the New Zealand Silver Ferns and Samoa.

The Tonga Tala – Credit: Misha Jordaan/Gallo Images/Netball World Cup 2023

Ones to watch:

Hulita Veve is captain of the Tonga Tala and has enjoyed a great World Cup so far. She was awarded Player of the Match for her display against Fiji in their World Cup opener. The centre, who also plays for the Queensland Firebirds in Suncorp Super Netball, could go up against Imogen Allison who has heavily featured with the centre bib for the Vitality Roses in this competition.

At the top of the court, Uneeq Palavi will be no stranger to the Roses’ Geva Mentor. The young goal shooter was part of the Collingwood Magpies pathway and made her debut in the Team Girls Cup in February. In their second game of the World Cup, the shooter shot an impressive 29 from 34 against Australia and was particularly sharp in the first quarter, shooting 11/12 coming up against Courtney Bruce and Sarah Klau in the circle. Vitality Roses Head Coach Jess Thirlby has tried some different defensive combinations in this tournament with the likes of Funmi Fadoju coming in and excelling when called upon.

Where to watch: 

Tune into the Vitality Roses’ first match of Preliminary Stage Two live on BBC Two and iPlayer, and Sky Sports Arena and Mix, with the first centre pass at 5pm (UK time). 

Download our match schedule so you don’t miss a game and grab our watch-along wall planner so you can follow each team’s progress. 

Keep up to date with what’s happening inside the England camp by following us on our socials @EnglandNetball. 

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